Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Modern Magic

Recently the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant came out for Business Intelligence and Analytics. I'm not going to get into the subtle nuances of what makes a Gartner Magic Quadrant "magic", but if you've heard of a vendor, chances are they are on here. If that vendor is fortunate enough to be in the upper right, chances are they are a safe bet, and if they are in some other area you'd better be buying them for a very specific use case.

Courtesy Alteryx.
My first thought after looking at this was that this quadrant doesn't make anyone look all that magic. To wit...
  • 40+% of those rated are "leaders". One can only imagine how populous the "followers" box must be.
  • 90+% of those rated are in half of the categories. Not exactly exploring the studio space on this graph, huh?
  • There hasn't been a visionary in the business intelligence space since 2009 (there were 2 back then). Seems like a real growth opportunity.
Thus far the only purpose this visualization serves is reminding me of the old adage that "half of all doctors are below average." The good news is that this heavy clustering in the upper right and lower left is nothing new.
2012 courtesy of Tableau.

2011 courtesy of The Dashboard Spy.
This brings up the the more interesting point, which is the the addition of "Analytics" to this year's criteria. It seems fairly obvious from looking at the last few years' worth of quadrants that this was just a concession by Gartner that Tibco and Tableau could no longer be shut out of the leaders quadrant even though they don't fit the model of a traditional BI software provider. Theoretically this means that Gartner has finally given a nod to a meaningful change in the market. Pessimistically it sounds like they realized their model was broken and this was the easiest way to cover up that people were buying too much software that wasn't in the Magic Quadrant's most magic quadrant.

This does leave us with a rather interesting situation where solutions that were formerly considered departmental (tools like Tableau, Qlikview, and Tibco) might now be tasked with meeting enterprise needs. Clearly the price tag is attractive, but I have a feeling that all of the same reasons keeping large enterprises from going to the cloud (maturity, FUD, and the difficulties in extending and customizing solutions) are going to keep these smaller vendors serving marketing or HR while Cognos and BusinessObjects present the majority of data within most organizations.

In the end, I think Gartner's Magic Quadrant continues to serve the purpose it always has, which is a security blanket for those in procurement who won't buy any software that isn't at least mentioned. Only time will tell if that security blanket is getting a little thread-bare now that a vendors presence on here could mean they could be a safe bet for a large enterprise solution, a small or medium-sized enterprise solution, or even a departmental solution.

For an SAP-specific slant, please check out Dallas Marks's thoughts.


  1. A mate of mine had a hard time posting a comment, so I'm adding it here.

    "Good read Jamie

    I have just looked at the report and question the reliability of the results when a BI vendor who appears in the leading quadrant is described by customers as having unreliable, buggy software; poor customer support; below average functionality compared to other vendors. On a positive Gartner says that they sell a lot of product. If this vendor has been classified as a leader I wonder what a vendor would need to do to appear in a lower quadrant.

    Paul Hawking ("

    Thanks, Paul.

    I'm not really sure if this quadrant is meant to justify your next software purchase or your last one.

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